Legend of storks is story-telling play for Danish Festival
GREENVILLE — Danish folk lore says if a stork builds a nest on your roof, you shall have good luck, peace and happiness.
Renowned storyteller Hans Christian Andersen used this premises to write his story “The Storks,” which has been adapted by the Hans Christian Andersen Theater as this year’s Danish Festival play.
A fast-paced, colorful production, the story focuses on the two storks who built their nest on the roof of the very last house in a little village, looking for a safe place to raise their family of four chicks. The family, however, is mocked by group of boys from the village.
“The story is very pertinent for today,” said co-director Ruth Hansen, “It talks of bullying and how the boys tease the storks and how the young storks want to retaliate. Papa says ‘no,’ and in the end the storks make peace with the kids.”
The theater group collaborates with the Danish Festival Committee, planning three years in advance for a play and theme for the festival. This year, every child who auditioned was given a role. A well-detailed set helps to give a fairy-tale feeling to the stage. Bright costumes not only help to distinguish the stork families, but also add to the choreography as the birds twirl and spin.
Mamma and Papa stork, played strongly by veteran actors Olivia Tower and Tyler DeGood, welcome their four chicks to the nest. The stork family, which includes Claus (Anna Stanford), Beaky (Isabella Tower), Fluffy (Brittney Carskadon) and Frumpy (Alli Fisher) and the stork chorus, perform a beautiful rendition of “Good Morning, My Little Ones” as the little ones get settled into their warm and cozy nest.
Mamma and Papa explain how the babies will practice flying, and make their wings stronger, but until then, they need to stay in the nest.
“When I get older, I’m going to do whatever I want,” protests Claus.
“That’s fine, but until then, you must do what Papa and Mamma want,” says Papa, one of the many doses of good advice Papa doles out to children.
Uncle A.J. and Aunt Birdie, played comically by Emma Skogseth and Lauren Sandtveit, come for a nice visit, but Uncle A.J.’s teasing Mamma and calling the chicks names gets the family upset, and they argue.
“Sometimes families argue and disagree, but we still love each other,” Mamma apologizes, “Birdie hurt my feelings, but I shouldn’t have called her names.”
Mamma sings a lovely lullaby and calms everyone down.
Later on, Claus and Beaky fight and call names, and again the parents remind them that name calling causes harm.
“Families need to stick together,” Papa reminds them, “Words can hurt.”
Papa and Mamma and the other stork parents sing “Love Spoken Here.”
“Only love is spoken here, hope and joy and cheer …” the song reminds the audience how good words are welcome and bad words can hurt.
Soon after, the rowdy village boys- Hans, Willy and The Boys, portrayed by Hallie Sage, Luke Swanson, Ian Neal, Xavier Stanford-approach the nest and begin to mock the family. Peter, played politely by Lydia Pollock, and the girls, Greta and Helga, portrayed by Secrett Hunt and Madison Fisher, try to get the mean boys to stop.
“It’s not funny when you are mean and cruel,” Peter tells the boys and all the children begin to fight and argue with each other, leaving the storks alone.
The story line is braided with messages for children of all ages, like when Papa says, “It takes time to learn new things.” And “We don’t get revenge. Things will work out in the end.” The story teller says because of the kindness Peter has shown the storks, all the storks will protect him.
Uncle A.J. and Aunt Birdie show the audience it is okay to be different from others. The two perform a bouncy rap “Chains and Studs.”
Hans later decides it wasn’t nice to tease the storks after all.
Only Willy continues his taunts, even when the storks prepare to fly to Egypt for the winter.
Now that the babies are grown up, they, too, are old enough to know the mysterious stork secret, which will pay Willy back for his mischief.
An uplifting, well-done musical that is sure to be enjoyed by all.
The show opens at 7 p.m. today with additional performances at 2 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at the Greenville Area Community Center, 900 E. Kent Road, and are $10 each
CAST AND CREW
CAST: Story Teller, Erin; Mamma, Olivia Tower; Papa, Tyler DeGood; Claus, Anna Stanford; Beaky, Isabella Tower; Fluffy, Brittney Carskadon; Frumpy, Alli Fisher; Uncle A.J., Emma Skogseth; Aunt Birdie, Lauren Sandtveit; Hans, Hallie Sage; Willy, Luke Swanson; Greta, Secrett Hunt; Helga, Madison; Peter, Lydia Pollock; The Boys, Ian Neal & Xavier Stanford; Mother Stork, Savannah Bretzke; Chicks: Alexis Raths, Paige Raths & Alison Skogseth; Chicks: Emily Christensen, Hilary Christensen & Madison; Mother Stork #2, Secrett Hunt; Chicks: Eleanore Drake, Joshephine Drake & Raya Hamel-Alleyne; Father Stork, Hallie Sage/Ian Neal; Chicks, Xavier Stanford; Sister Storks: Madi Durdle, Lydia Pollock, Makenzie Stanford, Sarah Stanford, Averi VanHoose.
CREW: Kristen Kohn/Greenville Area Community Center, producer; Jayne Johnson, production coordinator; Ruth Hansen & Becky Tower, directors; Meredith Stowitts, student director; Erin Williams, stage manager; Jean Hudson, music director; Jim Mason, choreographer; Meredith Stowitts, assistant choreographer; Kathy Frank, costumes coordinator; Martha Henning, costumes seamstress; Brittany Bassett, technical director; Vincent Frank & Cal Kreiner, tech team; Brad VanHouten, sound technician; Linda Custer, makeup coordinator; Katie Wall, Elsie Underhill, Felicia Raths, makeup crew; Sulayne Stowitts, props; Dan Eagles & Larry Snow, set construction; Vincent Frank, Karen Pollock & Terry Walsworth, set artists.
Lori Hansen is a Greenville area resident